Donald Montanaro, 82, of Center City, a renowned Philadelphia Orchestra clarinetist and longtime music teacher whose students can be found around the world, died Wednesday, Nov. 30, of complications from lymphoma at Pennsylvania Hospital.
From 1957 to 2005, Mr. Montanaro was the orchestra's associate principal clarinetist.
"He leaves a profound legacy of service to music and particularly to Philadelphia," said Allison Vulgamore, president and CEO. "He had a remarkable tenure with our beloved orchestra."
In 1999, he received the orchestra's C. Hartman Kuhn Award given annually to a musician who has shown ability to enhance the standards and reputation of the performing group.
Starting in 1980, Mr. Montanaro taught at the Curtis Institute of Music, where "his teaching and musicality embodied the great Philadelphia tradition of wind playing," institute president Roberto Díaz said.
"As a clarinet student, he inherited a musical legacy from Daniel Bonade and Marcel Tabuteau; as a teacher, he drew upon them to create a unique emphasis on sound quality and singing style," Díaz said in announcing Mr. Montanaro's death.
"We will remember Don with great respect and love," Díaz said.
Mr. Montanaro attracted young clarinetists here for training and then mentored them. His students occupy important positions in the orchestras in Beijing, Dallas, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Malmö in Sweden, Mexico City, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seoul, and Toronto, as well as the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera.
Sam Caviezel, a former student who is associate principal clarinetist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, said Mr. Montanaro had some unique gifts.
"His exquisite ear for tone and mastery of phrasing, combined with a keen understanding of how to transmit this knowledge to his students, made for a learning experience that has been second to none in my life," he wrote.
"Whenever I play something really beautifully in the orchestra, I feel like I am standing on Don's shoulders."
When Mr. Montanaro retired from Curtis in 2014, H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest awarded him the institute's first honorary doctoral degree. Lenfest and wife Marguerite are longtime supporters of the institute.
Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Montanaro graduated from Curtis in 1954. A year later, he became clarinetist for the New Orleans Symphony, but left for Philadelphia after two seasons.
His influence was felt across America and abroad. He was founder and artistic director of the Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble, performed at the Marlboro Music Festival and the Casals Festival, toured Europe and the Far East as a soloist, and taught master classes around the world.
He was there when the orchestra made a historic trip to China in 1973, said his wife, Margarita Montanaro, the former coprincipal harpist with the orchestra.
Mr. Montanaro also made dozens of recordings and designed clarinet mouthpieces for the Vandoren company in France.
When not playing or teaching music, he enjoyed travel and cheering for the Phillies.
He will be remembered as "a perpetually happy, calm, clear-thinking individual who was passionate about his family, his music and playing, his students, and his friends," his wife said.
"His circle of friends was incredibly diverse. He was someone who had the ability to find commonality with anyone and a basis for friendship," she said.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Alexander and Gregory and two granddaughters.
A visitation starting at 8:45 a.m. Monday, Dec. 5, will be followed by a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass at Old St. Joseph's Church, 321 Willings Alley, Philadelphia. The church is near Fourth and Walnut Streets. Burial is private.